by Darius Kazemi, Feb 22 2019

In 2019 I'm reading one RFC a day in chronological order starting from the very first one. More on this project here. There is a table of contents for all my RFC posts.

Making things official

RFC-53 is by Steve Crocker, titled “An Official Protocol Mechanism”, and dated June 9th, 1970.

The technical content

This document sets up some rules for how the “official” Host-Host protocol will be distributed. These rules emerged from conversations at the Spring Joint Computer Conference the month prior in Atlantic City.

Protocol documents will live at the Network Information Center at the Stanford Research Institute. Proposals for and changes to the protocol will be distributed as RFCs. Feedback is solicited for all proposals and changes, but there will be a cutoff date indicated on the documents. If there is substantial acceptance by the community, the proposal will be sent to ARPA for final approval or disapproval. In the case of substantial criticism, it's considered a dead proposal or change.

If ARPA approves the protocol or change, the document is added to the NIC at SRI.


This is the first inkling of RFCs being an official source of specifications and standards, and the first attempt to lay out a process more formal than “we'll all discuss things together, please be open with your thoughts.”

Further reading

The SRI NIC would eventually become the body that assigned domain names and IP addresses, led by Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler for many years. Here is a brief overview of its role, and here is a much meatier paper written by Feinler on its history.

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About me

I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm a Mozilla Fellow and I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with both ActivityPub and the Dat Project.